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Chelsea's St. Louis Center celebrates $2M expansion of adult residence hall

The St. Louis Center in Chelsea opened more than 60 years ago as school for developmentally disabled boys, and has grown and changed ever since. Now, with 52 residents that include men of all ages and women, the center is celebrating a $2 million renovation to their Fr. Guanella Hall for Assisted Living, which adds 2,500 square feet to the 10,065 square foot residence hall. 

"As time has gone on, our population has been aging," says Joe Yekulis, PR director for St. Louis Center. "In 2000, for our 50th anniversary, we said, 'It's great that we've made it for 50 years, but where do we go from here?'"

The decision led to a long-term, $10 million plan the St. Louis Center calls the Three U's: Upgrade, Update and Uplift to renovate the facility to meet the needs of their growing and aging population. Previously, the organization has built a new administration center and a new special needs playground. The expansion of the Fr. Guanella Hall is their most ambitious project to date. 

"I think the impact will be extremely positive," says Yekulis. "It's all about creating a great quality of life for the residents here."

Work on the project broke ground in October and is now about 90 percent complete. The St. Louis Center will celebrate the project with a dedication ceremony on June 8. Most Reverend Bishop Earl Boyea, Bishop of Lansing, as well as other religious leaders and state senators are expected to attend the ceremony, which will include a mass, blessing and ribbon cutting ceremony. The public is welcome to attend.

All funds for the center were raised by the St. Louis Center through donations. The next phase of their Three U's plan is to build an assisted living village on their property for more independent residents.

Source: Joe Yekulis, St. Louis Center
Writer: Natalie Burg

Michigan wines, ciders and education to be served up at Vin Bar on Liberty

Michigan wine is booming business. As far as Traverse City tasting rooms and wineries go, however, it's also a seasonal one. That's why, about two years ago, Good Harbor Vineyards, Black Star Farms and L. Mawby started talking about partnering to open an off-site wine bar and tasting room in a city with year-round traffic. 

"Ann Arbor is definitely busy in the winter months, and the demographics in Ann Arbor are fantastic," says Taylor Simpson, sales, distribution and marketing manager for Good Harbor Vineyards. "And there just seems to be a lot of support for all things local in Ann Arbor."

Vin Bar, a wine bar, tasting room and wine retail store will open this summer in the former location of the Skin Bar on W. Liberty. In addition to wine, the bar will serve ciders, limited food items and cocktails featuring wine and cider. Wine tasting will be available during the day. A Michigan wines education will offered at all hours. 

"We're hoping to provide an educational experience about wine, but more specifically about Michigan wine, to show people what is going on in the industry," Simpson says. "We are three wineries that have a long history of making wine in Michigan, and we're hoping to bring a lot of that knowledge with us."

While no opening date has been set, the Vin Bar is slated to potentially open in July. The 1,100 square foot space is now under renovation, though because of the building's historic character, Simpson says that they don't have too much to do to create their unique space. She expects the bar will hire around five employees to staff the business.

Source: Taylor Simpson, Good Harbor Vinyard
Writer: Natalie Burg

Phillip Family Chiropractic brings couple's practice to Chelsea

Drs. James and Elizabeth Philip both grew up in Lenawee and Washtenaw Counties, respectively. After getting married and becoming chiropractors, they almost began their careers in Traverse City, before southeast Michigan called them home. 

"We realized we wanted to be closer to family," says Elizabeth, who goes by Dr. Liz. 

That decision led to the opening of Philip Family Chiropractic in on Middle St. in downtown Chelsea last week. Dr. Liz says they chose the approximately 1,000 square foot location for its proximity to downtown shops and restaurants, and believe their services will be a good fit for that side of town. 

We're newly graduated, so we're on top of all the more recent technologies and information," she says. "We're interested in the lifestyle of our patients, and helping them get to bette health. We try to give them a good experience as soon as they walk in the door."

Philips Family Chiropractic will celebrate a grand opening in September. Currently, the husband and wife team manage the practice themselves, but hope to grow into hiring a staff in the future. Five years down the road, says Dr. Liz, they hope to expand into a larger space.

Source: Dr. Elizabeth Phillip, Phillip Family Chiropractic
Writer: Natalie Burg

Romania-inspired chimney cake restaurant opens this month at Briarwood

When Teo Marcinescul went to Romania last year, he tried something he'd never tasted before. It was a cylinder of sweet dough with a sugar glazed, dipped in toppings. And it was delicious. 

"I was like, 'Wow, these are amazing,'" says Marcinescul. "Why don't we have these in America?"

The pastry is called a Chimney Cake, and after Marcinescul and his two traveling partners did their research and developed a business plan, they became available in Taylor, and soon, they'll be making their debut at Briarwood Mall with the Chimney Cake Cafe

"So far, everybody likes it," Marcinescul says of their reception in Taylor. "We decided to open the second location, and hopefully we'll keep growing from there."

The chimney cakes are made from a sweet dough that is wrapped around a rod a baked with a coat of sugar. When the dough is baked, the sugar caramelizes, and customers can choose from a range of toppings, including walnuts, Nutella, Oreos, peanut butter and more. The Chimney Cake Cafe will also offer savory cakes stuffed with chicken shawarma, Philly cheesesteak and pepperoni, among other options. 

The Chimney Cake Cafe opened its first store in the Southland Mall in Taylor in February. The Briarwood location will be located near the Chipotle and Potato & Co. restaurant and will open within about two weeks. 

Eight employees are currently working at the Taylor location, and Marcinescul anticipates hiring at least as many for the Briarwood store. Marcinescul hopes to continue to add more stores to their business in the future.

Source: Teo Marcinescul, Chimney Cake Cafe
Writer: Natalie Burg

Mall boutique iT... to make the move to Main St.

Nicki Wilson's iT… boutique has been in a number of spaces in Briarwood Mall, but wherever she was located, she heard one thing from customers. 

"So much of the time people would come into our store and they'd say, 'You should be on Main Street. You're such a Main Street store,'" Wilson says. "We've been a store six and a half years and we've been looking for five." 

That search recently ended when Wilson signed a lease to set up shop in the 1,300 square foot former home of the Chocolate House on S. Main. 

"It was just it," Wilson says. "I feel like we got blessed with the right place at the right time. I'm just really excited to be downtown and to be part of the mix. I cannot wait to get open." 

Renovations are now underway in the downtown location, and iT… has closed its Briarwood store in preparation for the move. Wilson plans to feature a number of new artists, jewelry and pottery in the new location, and hope to open in the next several weeks. 

It… will be staffed by Wilson and her husband, and the pair plan to add a part-time staffer in the new location. 

Source: Nicki Wilson, iT...
Writer: Natalie Burg

Real Baked Goods to bring handmade treats to Packard St. neighborhood

Cinnamon rolls and chocolate chip cookies are in store for the small storefront next to Arbor Vacuum on Packard St. Alan Caldwell's Real Baked Goods will be serving up sweet and savory delights beginning later this year. 

"I'm very excited about it. It's going to be baking from scratch," says Caldwell, who is returning to his first vocational love of food service after 20 years with Ford and opening a home health company. "I don't expect to see everyone everyday, but hopefully I'll have a lot of once or twice a week customers."

The 285 square foot space is small, but Caldwell says its just right for what he's planning to do. Over the next few months he'll be adding new counters, display cases, and kitchen equipment. He plans to have enough room for two tables and four chairs for customers, who will have chose between a variety of baked good from Caldwell's kitchen.

"I definitely want to have some savory things for lunch time," he says, "things like pepperoni rolls and spinach rolls. It's been really fun to test recipes. I've gotten some good feedback."

Caldwell plans to open Read Baked Goods in late August. Initially, he plans to operate the business himself, with some help from family members.

Source: Alan Caldwell, Real Baked Goods
Writer: Natalie Burg

Ypsilanti's Thompson Block project announces 100% occupancy for commercial tenants

Things are really getting moving with Beal Properties's Thompson Block project. The $4 million redevelopment project has gained steam with the recent announcement that 100 percent of the 14,000 square feet of commercial space has been spoken for. The tenants will include big local names such as Zingerman's, Espresso Royale and Unity Vibration, as well as an unnamed bar and performance venue.

"In the fall of 2013 I asked Tyler Weston with Howard Hanna Real Estate Services to become a partner in the project and to specifically handle the leasing of the project," says Steward Beal of Beal Properties. "Tyler agreed and we then literally made a list of businesses that we would approach and ask them to consider opening up their business in the building." 

Seeking out their ideal businesses has panned out. Beal estimates 10,000 people a year will make special trips to Ypsilanti to visit the businesses, making the hand-picked business mix a potential boon for Depot Town. 

"The businesses we have attracted are a good fit because they are 4 credit worthy businesses 3 of which have other locations where they have a good rental history," Beal says. "The brand names bring excitement and anticipation to the project both of which we need to make the project successful."

Beal aims to have the businesses open and operating by late 2015 or early 2016. Currently, his team is working to secure construction financing and continuing to sell remaining shares in the project ownership group to individual investors.

Source: Stewart Beal, Beal Properties
Writer: Natalie Burg

New Ypsi glam bar opens with numerous beauty services

Fierce Vixens Glam Bar opened in April on W. Michigan Ave. in Ypsilanti offering services ranging from hair extensions to teeth whitening. 

"My friend has a Detroit-based hair boutique and I had hair salon," says Litrece Walker, who owns Fierce Vixens Glam Bar with partner Shawn McCoy. "We wanted to expand, so we combined our businesses."

Fierce Vixens Glam Bar is an extension of Detroit Make Me Fierce, which attracted so many clients from the Ypsilanti area, it was an obvious place for the business to grow.

"We have a lot of clients who travel form Ypsilanti to Detroit to get their hair done," Walker says. "We wanted to make it more convenient for them, and we like that the location is close to the college." 

The 1,400 square foot Glam Bar also includes makeup services, hair color and barber services. On the weekends, the women offer their clients cocktails and finger food and promote specials for college students. The business currently employs four staff members as well as the two owners. 

Source: Litrece Walker, Fierce Vixens Beauty Bar
Writer: Natalie Burg

Pangborn Design Collection to bring art and accessories to Main St.

Airport layovers are generally avoided at all costs, but during the decade Pangborn Design Collection spent as a retail tenant in McNamara Terminal, customers from all over the world chose layovers in Detroit Metro Airport over direct flights to shop Dominic Pangborn's inventory of unique art, accessories and jewelry. 

"We had unbelievable return customers," Pangborn says. "We had people say, 'I fly though Detroit purposely to shop at your business."

Those loyal customers will soon have a new destination to seek out when Pangborn Design Collection opens on Main Street this fall. The 2,000 square foot retail space will offer both Pangborn's own art, as well as a collection of unique items from other artists. 

"Ann Arbor has always been a fabulous market," says Pangborn. "So many of our customer were flying out from Ann Arbor, so it was just a perfect fit. We always said if we can get into the right location in Ann Arbor, we've got to do it."

Pangborn has worked as an artist in Detroit since 1979, and his paintings are now sold all over the world. A regular public speaker himself, he plans to bring speakers, artists and educational opportunities to his shop for monthly events. 

Pangborn Design Collection will begin their Main Street lease in Sept., and Pangborn hopes to open quickly after a brief renovation period. He intends to employ between five and 10 staff members. 

Source: Dominic Pangborn, Pangborn Design Collection
Writer: Natalie Burg

Southern California-style Mexican food comes to Ann Arbor

There may be a few places to get burritos around Ann Arbor, but a whole different kind of Mexican food is coming to town as early as next week with Get Some Burritos

"The owners and investors are from Southern California, and it has a unique kind of Mexican food. They call it SoCal Mexican," says Get Some Burritos General Manager Devon Bivens. "There was some interest in the Midwest to bring SoCal Mexican here."

The first Get Some Burritos opened in Madison, Wisconsin, and Ann Arbor will be the second location. Bevins describes SoCal Mexican as including different spices than the TexMex food many Midwesterners are used to, and including steak instead of ground beef. 

"I think it's going to bring something a little bit different to Ann Arbor," Bevins says. "There are different kinds of Mexican around, but this is a different flavor profile."

The 1,200 square foot restaurant on Packard will seat about 24 people and employ a staff of about 12. Bevins hopes the near-campus area will attracts students on the go to and from classes. After about six months of renovations, Get Some Burritos is hoping to open by May 15. 

Source: Devon Bivens, Get Some Burritos
Writer: Natalie Burg

ReImagine Washtenaw moves toward "complete streets" with new study

ReImagine Washtenaw recently released its Corridor Improvement Study, which takes a comprehensive look the five miles of Washtenaw Ave. connecting the Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Pittsfield and Ypsilanti Twps. Funded by the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the research seeks to move the corridor closer to a “Complete Street” model, including bike lanes, a sidewalk network and boulevards.

“For the first time, all four local units of government have a jointly-developed, comprehensive plan for making Washtenaw Avenue a more ‘complete street,’" says Nathan Voght, Washtenaw County's ReImagine Washtenaw project manager. "ReImagine Washtenaw now has a detailed blue-print for how to transform the roadway, over time, into a street that is safer for pedestrians and bikers, and still handles vehicular travel efficiently.”
The Corridor Improvement Study revealed that the current rate of increase in traffic will soon cause intersections to fail, which Voght says will further frustrate drivers and hurt the economic viability of the commercial district. 

"The change we need to make has never been more urgent," says Voght, "and the ReImagine Washtenaw stakeholders will be continue to push ahead with necessary changes that will provide viable alternative forms of transportation, and the land use forms that will support them.”
Next up for the ReImagine Washtenaw project is to seek out funding to implement aspects of the Corridor Improvement Study that are currently achievable, as well as taking the necessary planning steps to facilitate and set the stage for those that could come to fruition in the future. 
Voght adds that none of the recommendations in the study are intended to impede or reduce vehicular capacity, requiring people to walk, bike and bus along the corridor. Instead, the increase in options will allow some people to take alternate modes of transport, putting the corridor in a better position for change. 

Source: Nathan Voght, Washtenaw County
Writer: Natalie Burg

Argus Farm Stop aims to help growers and locavores with year-round market

Ann Arbor is an undeniably great place for local produce — for part of the year. The demand for local foods, however, doesn't go away in the winter, and thanks to the rise of local hoop houses, it doesn't have to. Kathy Sample, her husband Bill Brinkerhoff and their business partner Scott Fleck are aiming to help local growers extend their growing season with Argus Farm Stop, an indoor farmers market coming to W. Liberty this year. 

"The Farmers Market is fantastic, but there is a waiting list to get in," says Sample. "And what happens when it rains and no customer show up? We thought, there's a mismatch here." 

After encountering an indoor farmers market in Ohio, Sample and Brinkerhoff met with the owners, as well as local growers and the Ann Arbor Farmers Market to see what could be done to expand the availability of local food here. When they found no one else was on the job, they put themselves on it. 

Argus Farm Stop will be located in a 1,300 square foot former gas station on W. Liberty that is now under construction. Sample hopes to open in August with new bathrooms, an espresso bar and a wide array of produce, meats and other local foods. 

"Michigan is the second most diverse state in terms of agricultural products," Sample says. "Somehow things have changed over the years. We want to build that back up."

Argus Farm Stop is operating as a  Low-Proit Limited Liability Company, an option which will help the company maintain funding as they pursue their social goals of extending the growing season and giving new opportunities to local growers. Sample also plans to include education opportunities for kids and families in their business model. A staff of approximately six employees will operate Argus Farm Stop, along with the business partners. 

Source: Kathy Sample, Argus Farm Stop
Writer: Natalie Burg

New Dexter business spices up downtown

After 14 years as a public school teacher, Denise Becker decided to spice things up with her business in downtown Dexter. The Dexter Spice House offers spices, rubs and spice blends that are unique to the area. 

Becker's interest in spices began when she her daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease four years ago. Rather that relying on pizza and take-out to feed her busy family as she had before, Becker was inspired to take to the kitchen and learn how to cook foods her daughter would love. Spices became key to her success. 

"I loved it," Becker says. "I was always on the hunt for different species and rubs and blends. When I had the idea to open my own store, I just decided to go for it."

The Dexter Spice House offers a variety of unique spice rubs like honey chipotle and an adobo lime, and blends such as shawarma, spicy thai, as well as all-purpose blends named after ares of Dexter.

"My blends are ones that you just can't find at any grocery store," Becker says. "Even the nice spice shop in at Ann Arbor — they have some blends that I don't have, but I have some they don't have."

Becker is now working to develop her online presence and expand her business to the web. She currently operates the shop herself with help from her mother and a part-time employee. 

Source: Denise Becker, Dexter Spice House
Writer: Natalie Burg

Marriott's Residence Inn to add 110 hotel rooms to downtown

The much anticipated hotel coming to the corner of Ashely and Huron in downtown Ann Arbor now has a name. Developer First Martin announced last week that Residence Inn by Marriott will be the brand of hotel to occupy the planned six-story building. An extended stay model, the Resident Inn will offer studio, one- and two-bedroom suites.

"There are different types of segments in the hotel industry, so we looked at the performance of each segment we were attracted to the extended stay market," says Mike Martin, vice president of First Martin Corporation. "Of that market we thought that the Residence Inn was far and away the leader." 

The 110-room hotel is expected to open in late summer or early fall of 2015. Those rooms will significantly grow the 274 hospitality rooms that are currently available downtown. While the extended stay option is especially convenient for business travelers, Martin says visitors of all kinds will be attracted to the Residence Inn.

"There is a lot of flexibility in that type of room," he says. "You have people who are staying for just one night, but would like a little bigger room who will also enjoy it. The rooms have a desk and a couch, so they speak to wide range of travelers." 

In addition to the hotel, the proposed First Martin development will include nearly 6,000 square feet of first floor restaurant or retail space.

Source: Mike Martin, First Martin Corporation
Writer: Natalie Burg

Salads Up to bring healthy food in a hurry to Liberty

Robert Mayer may be about to embark on his first restaurant venture, but the University of Michigan graduate has plenty of experience as an Ann Arbor diner on the go. After exploring franchising options to address the lack of both quick and healthy food options downtown with his business partner, the two decided to develop their own concept. The result will be Salads Up on E. Liberty. 

"This is not a traditional self-serve ‘salad bar,'" says Mayer. "It is a fast casual concept in which the customer chooses from our many ingredient options and our awesome homemade dressings. The offerings will include what most people associate with salads but will also have some creative twists."

In addition to salads and salad-like options, Salads Up will also offer wraps, soups and frozen yogurt. Mayer is currently working with his chef to develop a unique menu that emphasizes quality as well as local ingredients. 

The 1,200 square foot space will be entirely renovated to accommodate the new restaurant, including new plumbing, electrical, venting systems and interior cosmetic work.

"The building itself is not currently equipped to be a restaurant and will require some significant work," Mayer says. "We simply could not pass up on the location."

Renovation are slated to begin this week, and Mayer plans to open Salads Up by the end of the summer, and will hire about 11 employees. He hopes their success in Ann Arbor will lead to more Salads Up locations in other cities. 

Source: Robert Mayer, Salads Up
Writer: Natalie Burg
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